Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dolan, Chamberlain, & Churchill

I interrupt this column to bring you a special column. I had planned to print my small treatise “Y I am Catholic” in an uninterrupted series of columns but some breaking news must be dealt with.

On January 21, as if to celebrate its own version of the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Obama Administration announced that there will be no expansion of the narrow religious exemption to the mandate requiring all employers to cover contraceptive services, some of which induce abortions, as part of their employee health plans. The only “bone” thrown by Obama to religious institutions is an extra year to comply.

Catholic leaders, particularly Archbishop and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are predictably incensed and are speaking out strongly against the decision. But I can’t help but shake my head. And I will tell you why. However, I would like to first preface my remarks with the following consideration:

It is with great hesitation that I call into question the leadership of any pastor and most of a all a bishop and particularly the president of the USCCB. But while Catholics may not question the teaching of their pastors on defined matters of faith and morals, we are free to question them on certain matters of church governance. (Cann. 1732 - 1739)

And here I call into question matters of church governance by Archbishop Dolan during a time when the Church in America has never been in more danger. I don’t do so in order to impugn or disrespect him, but to call the attention of ordinary Catholics to the gravity of the battle that is upon us - and to the realization that the front lines have already been breached.

The war wages on two major fronts: same-sex marriage and abortion. And on both fronts, the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church, by his own admission, has been duped by the enemy.

Before you call me harsh, allow me to quote directly from an EWTN interview with Archbishop Dolan following the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York: “It sort of taught us that it’s not all that good to trust politicians sometimes. And I think some of us bishops think we were being deceived. And I think that could be, shame on us for believing them.”

Dolan was responding to an inquiry into why the New York bishops had done almost nothing to oppose the bill. Of New York’s 21 bishops, only two had publicly opposed it, with Dolan being one of them. But even Dolan’s opposition was muted and generic. In fact, the lack of opposition from Dolan and the rest of the bishops was so obvious that gay activist, Terence Weldon, wrote after the vote: “the really interesting thing about the Catholic bishops and NY gay marriage is not how vigorously they fought against it... but how lukewarm this opposition was overall, and how calm they have been in response.”

Dolan claimed that he had assurances from New York’s politicians that the same-sex marriage bill wasn’t going anywhere so he and the others decided to keep their “ammo dry”. While it might be tempting to cut Dolan a bit of slack since he admits his failure and does on obligatory “mea culpa”  (i.e. “shame on us”), his next “Neville Chamberlain moment”, only a few months later, proves that Dolan is either not up to the job or values appeasement more than truth. (Stay with me.)

I refer to the meeting he had with Obama on 11/15/11 at which the contraceptive mandate, under the broader title of “religious liberty”, was discussed. Dolan is quoted after the meeting as saying that he was “a bit more at peace than when I entered” and that he believed the president to be “very open to the sensitivities” of Catholics about religious liberty.

There is not the room here to explain “Neville Chamberlain” (google it), but that is the name that came to mind the minute I read the report of the meeting. Dolan had just admitted to being deceived by New York’s politicians and he was now feeling a “bit more at peace” after a meeting with the man who had openly sworn to erase every pro-life law on the books?! (See FOCA)

Personally, to see our leader all smiles after the meeting, was a crushing moment. First, Dolan had given into the terms of the “enemy” who agreed to meet with him on the condition that no details of the meeting would be released. Second, because he gave into Obama’s reported cordiality and his own feeling of “peace” (a la N. Chamberlain), official USCCB opposition to the contraceptive mandate fell silent after the meeting.

And then surprise, surprise, Hitler marches on Poland (see Neville Chamberlain), i.e. Obama gives Dolan a Roe v Wade anniversary present by giving no quarter to religious liberty other than more time to fall in line, shut up, and sit down. The Catholic Church will pay for sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortifacients, like it or not, by order of the Supreme Commander of the United States of America. Obama must have laughed as Dolan left the meeting.

Apologies for the longer than usual column, but unfortunately there is more. To repeat, the U.S. Catholic Church has never been more in harm’s way. Obama has made no secret that Christianity in general and Catholics in particular are in his cross-hairs. The fact that the USCCB has hastily assembled an ad-hoc committee to do battle against the Obama administration’s attacks on religious liberty is a move reminiscent of a wartime emergency, and leaves no doubt that the bishops now understand the true objectives of the man they have been trying to appease.

But under our current episcopal leadership there is reason to fear we will lose. That fear stems not from Dolan’s follies as regards our losses on the war fronts of same-sex marriage and the abortifacient mandate, but stem from two other actions that bode more ominously: 1) the rerelease of a very dangerous USCCB document, and 2) something Dolan himself said on national television about God.

The document to which I refer is the USCCB voter guide titled “Faithful Citizenship”. The document is dangerous because of its shocking disregard for moral prioritization of social issues. Though it gives special mention to abortion, its moral gravity is completely diluted by its being lumped together with other social ills such as war, hunger, and poverty, allowing Catholics to see abortion as just one issue among many and paving the way for Catholics to disregard the massive attack on unborn life carried out by this President.

In a previous column, I pointed out that the document had been roundly criticized by certain Catholic analysts for handing Obama the election in 2008. Despite Obama’s open promise to destroy every pro-life law on the books including the ban against partial-birth abortion and laws which mandate medical care for children who survive failed abortions, more Catholics voted for Obama, percentage-wise, than did the rest of the nation. Talk about “shame on us!”

Chief among the critics of Faithful Citizenship was Archbishop Raymond Burke, the highest ranking prelate in the Vatican, who roundly scolded the U.S. bishops for meekly paving the way to an anti-life Obama presidency. Burke, perhaps a Churchillian figure (as long as we are using the Chamberlain analogy), foresaw exactly what would happen to the U.S. Catholic Church under an Obama presidency and was aghast that Catholic leaders would invite the destruction upon themselves. But despite the scolding, Dolan and the U.S. bishops, with very few changes, have rereleased Faithful Citizenship to help “prepare” Catholics to vote in the 2012 election! Goodness!

But onto a much more serious matter - as if it could get any more serious. Archbishop Dolan, while appearing on Fox and Friends on 11/24/10, said something on national television that should be disturbing to every Catholic. The context of the show was the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and when asked for his thoughts on Thanksgiving, Archbishop Dolan replied:

“It's a time of the year when people are open to the Lord and we don't think about ourselves. We're grateful to God. We're conscious that somebody, some call him or her, whatever you want, somebody beyond us is in charge and we are immensely grateful that it's not about us.”

Does this need any comment from me? “Somebody...”? “Him or her...”? “ “Call (God) whatever you want..”??? And this from our Five-Star General? I of course do not believe that Dolan himself believes that God is a “him or her” or a “whatever you want”. But such squishy-ness about our Supreme God on national television from a national religious leader of Dolan’s stature?? No wonder Obama believes he can have his way with the Catholic Church. Is there a Churchill out there?

Now, one last thing. Before you call for my deposition as a weekly columnist, refer to the disclaimer that I personally place at the bottom of every column, but also go to the website, find this article, click on the links, and read the evidence for yourself.

I am often criticized for being “too negative”. I guess the thought is we only want “happy thoughts” in our paper. Folks, the fact that the bishops are now assembling for war with the Obama Administration demonstrates that we are on the brink. There is no time for “happy thoughts”. The actions of the USCCB in response to the attack on religious freedom are unprecedented. And I will pray that this will be Archbishop Dolan’s finest hour. I hope you will too. Should he become a saint, he wouldn’t be the first to have been forged into sainthood on the anvil of the times.
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